The Koala Room was on display from June 2016 – May 2017.
Private and collective memory, identity and loss are themes explored throughout Temin’s practice, informed by her father’s experience of migration to Australia from Hungary. She often works with fur, creating plush installations that at once evoke the comfort of childhood and create strange and unsettling environments.
For The Koala Room, Temin created a multi-sensory environment which invited visitors with different specific needs to engage with the work in their own way. Visitors were encouraged to explore the work through creating their own scenes with felt animals, trees and architectural icons, participating in costumed performance, and experiencing the plush installation.
Participatory performance was central to The Koala Room. In January and May 2016, Temin auditioned people across a range of ages, needs and abilities. She asked them to sing a song with significance to their cultural background, while wearing elements of a koala costume, such as ears, paws or a mask. Video recordings of these auditions were presented as part of the final commission.
Through this work, Temin sought to explore the tensions and possibilities for creative action that come from hybrid cultural identities. As a nation with a majority of immigrants and a chequered relationship with its Indigenous peoples, experiences of Australian national identity can be fraught. Through performance and participation, The Koala Room sought to create a place of acceptance and diversity that both celebrates and underscores the rich complexity associated with any particular idea or experience of being Australian.
The Koala Room was the fifth annual Bella Commission. The commission series invites artists to realise an interactive space for people with specific needs, including those with physical, intellectual, emotional or behavioural disability. Previous Bella Commission artists have been Emily Floyd, Hiromi Tango, Brown Council and David Capra.
The MCA Bella program was established in 1993 through the generosity of MCA patrons Dr Edward Jackson AM and Mrs Cynthia Jackson AM, and the Jackson family in memory of their late daughter and sister Belinda.